PARTNER OF THE MONTH - RAY NIKODEM
Ray Nikodem is West Point Thoroughbred's "Spotlight Partner" for the month of December.
Who are your current horses with West Point?
I currently have seven horses with West Point Thoroughbreds. They are Flashy Bull, Gracie Jo, Keltish Lass, Midas Point, Esoteric Thinker, Imaprospect and Dream Rush.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in St Louis. I went to college at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska but then returned to St. Louis where I'm currently a Dentist.
Have you owned horses before?
I started out with another syndication group. They were good, very small and I was not really happy with the lack of communication, it was a good group to get my feet wet with. I did some looking around and found Jeff Lifson and West Point and have been thrilled. I love the way West Point treats their partners.
How / why did you want to become an owner?
It actually came after a bad day at Fairmount Park race track. I saw a group of owners in the winner's circle after a race and knew I was on the wrong side of the game. I went home and started to look into ownership.
What attracts you to a horse?
Pedigree. Like a realtor would say "location, location, location" I would say "Pedigree, Pedigree, Pedigree". Terry and Buzz look for the best athletes so it's a nice fit. They find the best athletes and I look for the best pedigrees of those. I like to look at the mare side of the line and look for stamina. It's worked petty well so far (I've been very lucky).
Do you remember your first trip to the track?
I've been going to the track since I was very young (my grandfather went often). The first time I recall going was one day when we were complaining that there was nothing to do so my mom suggested we go to Fairmont Park (mom may have regretted the idea later) we had a great time and I've loved going to the track ever since. I still get goose bumps pulling into the parking lot at Fairmont Park.
Who was your first horse?
My first horse with West Point Thoroughbreds was Sharon's Delight who was trained by Dallas Stewart.
Who was your first winner?
Flashy Bull was my first winner. I had to wait a while for my first winner but I've had quite a few since then. I really like my portfolio for 2007.
Do you have any superstitions on race day or with your horses?
I'm actually very superstitious but most of my superstitions are handicapping angles. I do wear my West Point hat when I watch a race on TV. I used to have a favorite suit I would wear but that went by the way side.
Who is your favorite all-time horse? Why?
I know it's a fairly common answer but I would have to say Secretariat is my favorite. I remember watching him as a kid and that stretch run at the Belmont when he had that huge lead. You knew you where watching history.
Who is your favorite all time jockey?
I've always liked Laffit Pincay mainly because of his longevity. To be able to be so good for so long is amazing. I also liked Chris McCarron. They both seem like quality people as well as great jockeys. Kind of odd for a midwest guy to pick two west coast jockeys.
Who is your favorite trainer?
I've really liked getting to know the trainers and think they all have something to bring to the table. I like Rick Violette; he has a real passion for the game and the horses. I really respect how he handles the horses. The horses always come first.
What is your favorite track?
I've been to Saratoga and Del Mar but I would have to say my favorite is Churchill Downs. I've been very impressed with the upgrades they have done and there is something special about the Twin Spires.
What is your favorite race?
I'd like to say the Derby but in reality I like the Oaks better. They say the Derby is for the nation but the Oaks is for the people of Louisville. I like that it's special to the local community that thrives on horse racing.
Who is your favorite West Point horse? Why?
My favorite would have to be Dream Rush. She has so much talent and potential. Who knows she may even get me to the Oaks in 2007 (Flashy got me to the Derby).
If you could win any race, which would it be?
I would be a fool not to say the Kentucky Derby but if not the Derby I would love to win the Oaks.